US Slavery - Human Trafficking
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People are brought into the US by human traffickers, and then forced to work with no hope of getting free from their captors. They are paid low wages, charged exorbitant fees, and abused. This situation affects people from many foreign countries. This is not fiction.
Some of these people are smuggled in. Some are brought in legally by sponsors with guest work visas. Either way, those who end up in bondage are charged exorbitant fees that they can't possibly pay off. They are charged high rent and expenses for miserable living conditions. They are paid very low wages (below minimum wage). Their employers hold their papers, and charge them exorbitant fees to get them, if they will permit them to have their papers at all.
The people who end up in this trap don't know the laws regarding their papers or their options in the US. Fear and language barriers prevent them from being advised. They are very frightened that, if they seek help, they may be attacked by the law and its representatives. They are afraid to even discuss their situation with any outsider, and typically won't disclose their plight even if questioned. The good news is, if they are being mistreated or being held against their will, they are probably eligible for a visa that will permit them to escape their captors.
Some of these people have mates and children in their home country, but are unable to return home. Some receive such low wages, and are paying such high charges to their captors, that they have no money to send home.
Some are forced into prostitution at ages as young as 13. They are intimidated by threats of physical abuse, abuse to their families, and mental abuse - they are in the clutches of violent and ruthless people. They are often locked in rooms for months at a time, and forced to sexually serve as many as twenty people per day. They are trapped in a world in which they can't communicate, understand applicable laws, or understand their situation.
When the police later pick up these people as young adults and adults, for prostitution, the police think that this life is their choice, and don't investigate further. Forced into this lifestyle, divorced from family by distance and shame, and emotionally damaged, they are trapped for life.
The people who are most likely to see or hear about these people, recognize that something is strange about their circumstances, and seek help for them, is everyday people, religious leaders, and medical personnel, not the police. District Attorney offices, and Health and Human Services offices are the appropriate authorities to notify, as they are better equipped to understand, investigate human traffickers, and get help for their victims.
Sad but true, it is not just Asian and other third-world countries where people are economically oppressed, live in tyranny, and young adults are sexually enslaved. There are plenty of people in the US who exploit others in these ways for their own gain.
Stories in the entertainment media and press would heighten awareness in the public, and to some extent within the communities of those enslaved and the countries from which they come, about this problem and how to avoid or rectify it.
The source of information for this article was the St. Louis on the Air program on Human Trafficking, broadcast June 08, 2005 on St. Louis Public Radio station KWMU. The program, with host Don Johnson, was a "discussion about the problem of human trafficking and efforts to address it in the St. Louis area." Guests were Jim Martin, U.S. Attorney, Eastern District; Suzanne LeLaurin, Senior Vice President for Individuals and Families, International Institute; and Ana Pizarro Program Coordinator for the Hispanic Center, Catholic Family Services. The program can be listened to, and appropriate links found, at the KWMU Web site at this Archive page.
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Composed October 5, 2003, from an idea in Whats In A Word, Part III - Computer Relationship Systems.
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